History Highlights

King George III…people forget that he was the third German King of England

king_george_iiia

This image of King George III …in coronation robes… was painted by Allan Ramsay in 1762. The reason that I am writing about him is that people forget that he was the third German King of England. In fact, he was concurrently also the Duke of Hanover in Germany and a Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

He was the third British monarch from the House of Hanover, but unlike his two German-born predecessors, he was born in Britain, did not speak German as his first language, and never visited Hanover. George III, in his accession speech to Parliament, proclaimed: “Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Britain”. He inserted this phrase into the speech in order to demonstrate his desire to distance himself from his German forebears, who were perceived as caring more for Hanover than for Britain.

George was succeeded by two of his sons George IV and William IV, who both died without surviving legitimate children. This left the throne to Victoria, the only legitimate child of the Duke of Kent who was the last ruler of the House of Hanover. Queen Victoria and her German husband Albert’s son and successor, Edward VII, belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father, which continued the German heritage of British monarchs up to the present day.

A quick note regarding the family name of the ruling British family: when WWI erupted in 1914 and Britain went to war with Germany, the King was advised to downplay his German heritage. Finally, in 1917, the King’s family name was changed from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor and his relatives the Battenberg’s family name was changed to Mountbatten.

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